This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Seven Seas, Dark Horse Comics, SuBLime, Viz Media, and Yen Press.
Alice in the Country of Clover: Twin Lovers | By QuinRose and Kei Shichiri | Seven Seas – Well, it’s better than the Bloody Twins volume, but I think I’m going to have to accept that I just don’t like the twins enough to enjoy a book where they’re the focus. Not uncommon in a series based off a datesim. But I tend to agree with Blood about their immaturity (he can be just as bad, but isn’t in this volume), and a plotline about Alice trying to choose between them is less ‘we need to see how they differ’ and more ‘they are a package deal’, as they don’t differ – I still can’t tell the two apart. Add to that some toned-down threesome jokes, which are still bothersome as half the time they’re kids, and you have another Alice spinoff that didn’t wow me. – Sean Gaffney
Drug & Drop, Vol. 2 | By CLAMP | Dark Horse Comics – It’s been hinted for some time, but this volume at last gives us the Wish crossover we knew was coming, and flat out tells us that Kakei and Saiga, our two leads’ erstwhile benefactors, are in fact Hisui and Kokuyo from Wish. I’m not sure how much enjoyment is lost if a casual reader is getting this dumped on them – not much, I’d expect – but it’s a nice bonus for fans, just like the Suki and xxxHOLIC cameos were. (Has Miyuki-chan shown up?) As for the manga proper, we get a lot of backstory dump, and ponder whether Kazahaya’s sister Kei was driven mad after being kidnapped, or if she was halfway there already. I’m still not sure where this is really going, but it looks pretty, and will appeal to CLAMP fans. – Sean Gaffney
Love Stage!!, Vol. 1 | By Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou | SuBLime – It has been ages since I’ve read any BL, especially an over-the-top comedic series like this one. Male Izumi Sena, a shy, frumpy otaku from a family of celebrities, was once drafted to play a flower girl in a commercial ten years ago and now has been bribed (with otaku merchandise) to participate in an anniversary sequel. Meanwhile, his lovestruck costar, Ryoma Ichijo, reels to discover the object of his decade-long affection is actually a guy (though it doesn’t take long for him to decide this isn’t much of an impediment). This is a frivolous, unrealistic series, but I do like Izumi’s character design and some inklings that he might have acting talent after all. I don’t know for how long this series will be capable of sustaining my interest, but I would at least check out volume two. – Michelle Smith
So Cute It Hurts!!, Vol. 1 | By Go Ikeyamada | Viz Media – Normally I am all about manga with exclamatory titles, but must regretfully say that So Cute It Hurts!! really didn’t do much for me. It’s the story of the Kobayashi twins, female Megumu and male Mitsuru, who end up switching places because Mitsuru’s busy schedule of Sunday dates is threatened by remedial history classes unless his history otaku sister aces some makeup tests in his stead. Whilst attending the other’s school, they each experience their first love. There are some interesting aspects, like the fact that both love interests have a physical impairment and also seem to know each other, but the two leads just don’t interest me at all. I’m used to cute and fluffy shoujo, but this feels more superficial than most. – Michelle Smith
Sword Art Online: Girls’ Ops, Vol. 1 | By Neko Nekobyou, Reki Kawahara, and abec | Yen Press – Let’s be honest: aside from one short story in Vol. 8, we’re not really going to see Lisbeth, Silica or Leafa as more than cameos in the SAO novels anymore. So it’s nice to see them get their own series, as they participate in a side-quest in ALO and meet a young woman who was also trapped in SAO, and is still dealing with the PTSD that comes from that. (Lisbeth casually notes that they’re the weird ones, and that most SAO players are never going near another MMO). In real life, Hiyori looks eerily like Mugi from K-On! (let’s hope her friend she lost in SAO wasn’t Ritsu). I’m not sure when the next volume will be coming out, but it should be fun for fans of these characters. – Sean Gaffney
Tony Takezaki’s Neon Genesis Evangelion | By Tony Takezaki and khara | Dark Horse Comics – It’s almost impossible to review something like this, a title that has a very, very specific audience. Do you love Evangelion? Are you OK with the characters behaving in a stupid way for the sake of bad jokes? If not, avoid this volume. But if you are, there’s a lot to love here. As with most gag manga, the jokes are hit and miss, but I think there are more hits than misses. There is a certain “I am seven years old” quality to many of these jokes, but again, this is what you get for buying a gag manga. I will simply enjoy Gendo and Fuyutsuki fighting a sentai battle in cheap costumes, Asuka being so horrified her sound effects turn German, and far too many “congratulations!”.-Sean Gaffney