This week, Sean, MJ, & Anna look at recent releases from Viz Media, Digital Manga Publishing, and Yen Press.
Happy Marriage?! Vol. 10 | By Maki Enjoji | Viz Media – My favorite moments in this series always occurred when mismatched couple Hokuto and Chiwa had an “us against the world” attitude towards their various trials and tribulations, so I was happy to see that there were some great moments where they supported each other in the final volume of this series. Hokuto deals with the inexplicable violent attacks and family plots by temporarily divorcing Chiwa, saying that he wants to start over with a new marriage once his family situation gets sorted out. Chiwa marches in to confront the Mamiya clan, and Hokuto makes his family confront some unpleasant truths. The volume ends as happily as one would expect from a couple who makes a habit of fighting and making up all the time. I thought some of the later volumes in this series were a bit thin, but everything is now nicely wrapped up. Overall, I enjoyed this series and would be interested in checking out some of Enjoji’s other works. – Anna N.
The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat, Vol. 3 | By Okomeken, Sou Sagara and Kantoku | Digital Manga Publishing – The resolution of the Tsukushi plotline is the weakest part of this volume – the buildup was great, showing Tsukushi trying to push her sister away despite her clearly loving her. We even get the classic ‘hero gets so angry at character he punched them’, only what with Yoto being who he is, that goes very badly indeed. It’s just the denouement that’s the problem, where Tsukushi reveals she wants to go to America so that she can legally marry her sister – seemingly unaware that lesbian incest would still be illegal. It’s played entirely for laughs, and didn’t work for me at all. Oh well, at least the relationship between Yoto and Tsukiko is cute and heartwarming. – Sean Gaffney
Inu x Boku SS, Vol. 6 | By Cocoa Fujiwara | Yen Press – Reincarnation can be a pain in the ass to deal with, whether you remember your past life or not. Watanuki already had issues with being weak and not wanting to be protected before, but now that Carta, his crush, is 5 years older than him, as well as much taller and more mature, he simply can’t deal with it. Meanwhile, Carta thinks that he’s pushing her away as he hates her. Then there’s Ririchiyo, who DOESN’T remember her past yet, and everyone comments on how much pain this is causing Soushi. Honestly, Soushi is so good at hiding who he really is that this is debatable, but that’s partly the point. Ririchiyo can’t figure him out and neither can we. She does get her memory back, so we’ll see how things go next time. – Sean Gaffney
The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan, Vol. 9 | By Puyo, Nagaru Tanigawa and Noizi Ito | Yen Press – This being a gag manga, it’s difficult to move the story along as such, because there really isn’t one. But the plot does advance along with the original Haruhi LNs, and so Yasumi is now in the SOS Brigade, even if no attempt is made to show off the real aspect of her identity. It allows for another character to bounce off of, and Yasumi is fun. The more interesting development, though, may be Kyon finally seeing chibi-Asakura, and the two of them being strangely accepting of each other – indeed, only Kyon seems to understand her desire to be a shopkeeper. As that last sentence might suggests, Haruhi-chan’s strength remains its gags. Get it for those. – Sean Gaffney
Pandora Hearts, Vol. 22 | By Jun Mochizuki | Yen Press – In a series as tense and tumultuous as Pandora Hearts, it can probably be assumed that the series’ penultimate volume would be particularly so. And, in fact, this is the case. Still, I’m not sure I was fully prepared for just how anxiety-inducing this volume would actually be for me, and those who know me well can probably guess that the source of this angst can be boiled down to two simple words: Xerxes Break. The volume opens with the most gloriously Break-y chapter a fan could wish for, and continues largely in this vein to the end (though there’s plenty of Ada, Vincent, and Echo awesomeness to be enjoyed as well). It’s an extra-long volume, which I dearly hope will be the case for the series’ finale, which has not yet been completed. Oh, Pandora Hearts, sweet Pandora Hearts, your promises are many. I desperately hope you’ll keep them. Eagerly awaiting this story’s conclusion. – MJ
Spell of Desire, Vol. 3 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – It’s surprising, perhaps, that I’m still following Spell of Desire, after openly admitting how weary I’ve become of its timeworn premise and tropes. And this volume stays true to form. There’s some plot here, regarding heroine Kauruko’s official entry into the coven of black witches and the consequences of such for both her and her standard supernatural love interest, Kaname. But the truth is, this volume is mostly sex. Caught up in a desperate ritual, Kauruko loses her virginity to Kaname early in the volume, followed by much more of the same, accompanied by the familiar pattern of repeated declarations of devotion/ownership alternating with worry/guilt. It’s all in the spirit of trashy josei fun, of course, but there’s not quite enough plot in this volume to be engaging beyond basic smut value. Maybe next time? – MJ
Voice Over! Seiyu Academy, Vol. 9 | By Maki Minami | Viz Media – You can tell we’re getting near to the end of this series. The romance is starting to return to the fore, both in Senri’s utter inability to see what Shiro is to him, his discovering Shiro is also a voice actor, and Mizuki stepping up his game to get Hime to see how he feels about her, even if that may mean sabotaging what she has with Senri as “Shiro”. I’ll be honest, we’ve been following Shiro’s adventures for so long that even I was startled to see Hime in her normal hair-down state. I suspect the next volume will be a giant pile of disasters, and though I’m sure it will all end well I do wonder if a scandal may intrude. That said, Minami’s strengths are shown here – her flair for comedy and her overly happy lead. – Sean Gaffney