This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Seven Seas, Vertical Comics, Kodansha Comics, and Viz Media.
Alice in the Country of Joker: Nightmare Trilogy, Vol. 3 | By QuinRose and Job | Seven Seas – I’ve criticized this particular spinoff before, for what I consider subpar art and for its tendency to meander. But this volume steps up the danger for Alice, and utilizes the Joker setting almost as well as Circus & Liar’s Game. The fact that Joker’s many lethal weapons all deal with perception and memory fits very well into the Alice universe at large, and Julius fans will be pleased (maybe) to see he’s joined Ace as two of the Joker’s henchmen. As for Alice and Nightmare, the waffling is the point – both of them are dealing with scary feelings, and overcoming those brings this trilogy to a close. Overall, not as strong as many of the other spinoffs, but it stuck the landing. – Sean Gaffney
Girls & Panzer: Little Army, Vol. 2 | By Girls Und Panzer Projekt and Tsuchii | Seven Seas – The action-filled climax to this volume happens about halfway through, as Miho and Maho’s teams take to their tanks for a one-on-one battle. If you know this series and how old these girls currently are, the outcome won’t surprise you. What this volume does do is flesh out Maho a bit and make it more clear that she’s obeying her mother in all things partly to shield Miho from such a harsh upbringing. Unfortunately, this does not really help Miho as much as she’s like, since her mother is still a horrible parent. Luckily, things resolve as well as they can with a few well-placed cheer up speeches. A cute prequel to the main series, but I prefer that one. – Sean Gaffney
Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 13 | By Tsutomu Nihei | Vertical Comics – Well, the harem wraps itself up here, and in a way that I really did not expect, though it was signposted very heavily in retrospect. This leaves us with most of the volume once again devoted to the war against the Gauna, and more opportunities for Tanikaze to show off how amazing he is in combat. Indeed, it’s actually leading to negatives as well, as the new recruits are so frustrated by their inability to do much in battle that they’re getting reckless. There’s also another chilling cliffhanger, made even worse by the fact that we’ve caught up with Japan, and will have to wait till the fall to find out what happens. Still one of my most surprising manga hits. – Sean Gaffney
My Little Monster, Vol. 7 | By Robico | Kodansha Comics – Two of the three main romantic plotlines are seemingly wrapped up in this volume. Mitchan realizes he actually has be be meaner than he’d like to get Natsume to give up, and it’s realistically told and uncomfortable to read. Meanwhile, Oshima finally gives a direct confession to Haru, and (eventually) gets an equally direct rejection. That just leaves Yamaken and Shizuku, which is the only one that survives the volume and also the most annoying. It survives as Shizuku doesn’t get he likes her, and he’s too frazzled and scared to actually admit it to her. Add to this the arrival of a servant of Haru’s father who is HIGHLY irritating, and you have another up and down volume of this up and down series. – Sean Gaffney
Spell of Desire, Vol. 3 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – It’s not that Spell of Desire is awful, exactly, because it isn’t. It’s just that the characterization is lacking to the point that events don’t really impact me one way or another. In this volume, Kaoruko learns that in order to access her abilities as a witch, she must first lose her virginity. (In other words—can’t become a powerful female character without relying on a man!) So, she and Kaname finally admit and consummate their love, and then Kaname becomes an outcast for breaking his vow to the witch queen, and there is punishment and angst and resolve to become powerful enough to protect him. About the only slightly interesting thing going on is the conflict between Kaoruko’s black witch lessons and her white witch upbringing, and that might just be enough to get me to finish out the final two volumes of this blessedly short series. – Michelle Smith