Sean and Michelle review print and digital manga from Kodansha Comics, VIZ, and Yen Press.
Handa-kun, Vols. 1-2 | By Satsuki Yoshino | Yen Press – This was going to be Yen’s first digital-only release, but I guess the demand was high enough that it’s getting print in January, so it’s just digital first. This is a prequel to Barakamon, showing the adventures of Handa in high school. If Barakamon is Yotsuba&!, Handa-kun is Azumanga Daioh, being a gag manga that’s sort of the dark mirror of Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto. Rather than being perfect and having everyone stand in awe, Handa is an unsociable wretch who worries constantly about everyone hating him… except everyone stands in awe. There’s some hilarious comedy here, and you’ll appreciate how far Handa has come by Barakamon. It’s pretty slight, though; don’t expect much plot. – Sean Gaffney
So Cute It Hurts!!, Vol. 2 | By Go Ikeyamada | VIZ Media – Twin siblings Megumu and Mitsuru Kobayashi have traded places for a week so Megumu can help her academically challenged brother. They both end up falling in love and things move swiftly in this second volume, with the nature of the relationship between the twins’ love interests, Aoi and Takenaka, turning out to be what most readers probably expected, and with the masquerade seemingly coming to an end after some ridiculous shenanigans involving a not-really-that-deep hole and an inadequate grip on a towel. I’m still feeling quite “meh” about this series even though this volume is a little better than the first. Not even Aoi’s too-brief questioning of his sexual preferences can add any real depth, and I can’t believe this series is at twelve volumes and still ongoing! It’s so slight, I would’ve pegged it for four, tops. – Michelle Smith
Today’s Cerberus, Vols. 1-2 | By Ato Sakurai | Yen Press – This is digital-only, and is fluffy enough that you can see why—there’s not much here you haven’t seen in other comedy manga with a supernatural bent. That said, there’s relatively minimal service compared to other titles in this genre, and the male lead’s dilemma is actually rather interesting, as he’s missing the part of his soul that causes him to feel joy. Cerberus is, as you’d expect, a girl who can switch between three heads (with three personalities), each of whom have a crush on her new master. Add the standard human girl who’s loved him from afar, and a few enemies (including a major one for the second cliffhanger), and you have a series I recommend to those who like Monster Musume and the like. – Sean Gaffney
Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy, Vol. 12 | By Maki Minami | VIZ Media – I suspect reactions to the final volume of Voice Over! will vary depending on each reader’s tolerance for important moments being left to the imagination. Although we do see Hime’s last performance as Shiro as a rousing success that even affects her cold-hearted mother, we get only the merest glimpse of her subsequent path to stardom as herself. And though we see Senri not only discover that Hime is Shiro, but also understand her motivation and recognize that never once has his interaction with either of her identities been anything less than genuine, we never see them talk about it. There is no confession, no kiss. And yet, it’s still a satisfying ending that stresses that falling in love is not going to derail Hime from pursuing her dream. I can’t really quibble with a message like that! – Michelle Smith
Voice Over! Seiyu Academy, Vol. 12 | By Maki Minami | Viz Media – Well, that was sweet and heartwarming and… really easy. All the conflicts seemed to resolve by simply not conflicting at all. Senri finds out Shiro is Hime… and is OK with it. Sakura’s mom starts to put Shiro under her spell… but is undone by Shiro’s essential shininess. Hime’s mother, who has destroyed her daughter’s sense of self-worth, sees her voice acting and suddenly realizes how wrong she’s been. It’s a bit pat, isn’t it? Couldn’t someone have gotten mad beyond half a page? That said, aside from that, everyone is cute and funny and I thought Shiro taking his glasses off there was a brilliant move that shows how Hime has grown as an actress. I just kinda wish more had actually gotten in her way. – Sean Gaffney
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Vol. 3 | By Maki Yoshikawa | Kodansha Comics – At last, after what seems like waiting forever, witches have now been mentioned in this title. And the implication is that there are more to come, but most of this is devoted to fallout from Nene trying to blackmail Ryu… which naturally blows up in her face, as it was obvious fairly immediately that she was the arrogant girl who thought too much of herself, so was guaranteed to be taken down a peg. More interesting to me is that the series still seems to love fluid sexuality (an excuse for lots of kissing), and the revelation of Ryu’s real powers added to Nene and Urara’s only helps add to that. I suspect everything will end hetero ever after, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. – Sean Gaffney