This week, Michelle, Sean, & Anna look at recent releases from Seven Seas and Viz Media.
D-Frag!, Vol. 5 | By Tomoya Haruno | Seven Seas – I must admit we got off to a slow start with this volume, as the lunchbox plot was dull, and yet another Momotaro parody never took off. But once we introduced our new adversary, Tama, D-Frag! goes back to doing what it does best – humiliating its entire cast for the sake of comedy, while at the same time allowing them to be completely awesome. Tama fits right into the manga, and shows off a surprising childhood side of the seemingly indomitable Chitose (and Roka being an adorable yet incredibly weird baby). Actually, it’s Sakura who now gets the role of the indomitable fighter. Add in a few jokes about Takao’s chest (because without those, how would you know you were reading D-Frag!?), and it adds up to a strong finish. – Sean Gaffney
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Vol. 6 | By Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki | Viz Media – It’s time for a new arc, and Totsuki Institute’s Fall Classic, a “grand stage for fierce cooking battles,” seems poised to offer some tremendous shounen tournament fun featuring quite a few new characters. Before it kicks off, though, Soma’s dad stops by to encourage his son by trouncing him in an invigorating breakfast challenge (it’s nice to see Soma lose for a change!) and Soma realizes his scent-fu is not up to par when confronted with a master of spices. I’d forgotten how much this series reminds me of The Prince of Tennis, but volume six evoked those feels once again. It also, alas, evoked some ews with ickier-than-usual fanservice, though even Soma had his clothes blown off by some potent curry, so I guess that evens things out a bit. The volume ends just as the classic begins, so I am definitely looking forward to volume seven! – Michelle Smith
Girls Und Panzer, Vol. 4 | By Girls Und Panzer Projekt and Ryohichi Saitaniya | Seven Seas – This is a franchise, of course, and most of those who are buying the manga will already be familiar with the anime, which ends in the same way. (I imagine the light novel, which focuses on Saori, ends the same – don’t expect it licensed anytime soon.) So the manga, unlikely to show off more thrilling action scenes (though they are done very well indeed) shows us instead more of its focus character, Yukari, and her love of tankery. It can sometimes feel a bit odd – the emotional core of the story is Niho’s, and seeing it viewed through Yukari’s prism feels off. But overall, I think this was an excellent adaptation, and I’m surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. Sweet and fun. – Sean Gaffney
Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 18 | By Julietta Suzuki | Viz Media – It almost felt like this series could end at the conclusion of the time-traveling arc, what with Nanami and Tomoe officially becoming a couple, but I’m glad it didn’t. It’s actually refreshing for her to get back to her old life, studying for finals so that she can go on the class trip to Okinawa. While I don’t love that Nanami is another in the long line of scholastically challenged shoujo heroines, I did like her being motivated by Tomoe’s resolve to absorb human knowledge, since he intends to be a more permanent part of her world. Too, the class trip brings greater definition to Nanami’s closest school friends and affords Nanami the opportunity to be very brave in attempting to save one of them from an aggrieved yokai. I admit to being a little lost about this whole Kirihito storyline, but was nonetheless thoroughly entertained. – Michelle Smith
Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Vol. 21 | By Karuho Shiina | Viz Media – Sometimes, narratives I am consuming for entertainment purposes portray the agonies of youth so acutely that said consumption becomes a bit stressful. Such is the case with Kimi ni Todoke’s 21st volume, in which the cast enters their final year of high school and must decide what to do about their futures. I absolutely love that Sawako is nudged into pursuing her own goals more aggressively—it’s great to see her feeling energized about something—and the idea of Ayane going off alone to see new things and become the confident person she knows she isn’t, even though others think differently, is great. (We can has spinoff?!) But there are some hints that at least one relationship might end (and if it doesn’t, that’s probably worse) and many exciting yet bittersweet days are to come. It’s great, but it hurts. It’s great because it hurts. – Michelle Smith
Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign, Vol. 5 | By Takaya Kagami and Yamato Yamamoto – I continue to enjoy the worldbuilding in this manga. The past two volumes were mostly concerned with training and fighting, so I was interested to see some of the backstory of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army get filled in when Yuichiro is called before some members of the high-ranking Hiragi family and subjected to an interrogation. The leader learns why Shinoa is disaffected from her family and also why despite his rank, Gurren is a target of suspicion. Yuichiro is determined to master his demonic weapons, hold on to his new found family, and try to turn his long-lost friend Mika into a human again. We’ll see if he can pull that off in the next few volumes. Seraph of the End is still an engaging series five volumes in. – Anna N