Sean tackles a big pile of briefs and Michelle… doesn’t.
Chocolate Cosmos, Vol. 1 | By Nana Haruta | VIZ Media (digital only) – Judging by the title, you might assume that Chocolate Cosmos has something to do with desserts, but so far, that does not appear to be the case. Instead, readers are introduced to high school first year Sayuki Sakurai, an academic slacker with an unfortunate case of resting bitch face, who just wants to experience a “heartwarming” kind of love, like she’s read about. It would seem luck is on her side when she meets a cute, sweet guy at the beach, but alas, he turns out to be a teacher at her school, Katsuya Hagiwara. The entire second half of the volume is Sayuki and friends trying to establish a club with Hagiwara as their advisor. As much as I generally don’t care for student-teacher romances, this one is chaste enough—and more of an ensemble piece—to be appealing in a comfort-food shoujo kind of way. I will probably keep reading it. – Michelle Smith
Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends, Vol. 12 | By Yomi Hirasaka and Itachi | Seven Seas – Once again I am impressed by how far this series will go to remind us how screwed up its main cast is, particularly Yozora, who undercuts what should be a really awesome moment with unrepentant theft. Even when a character is shown to be better off than we expect, such as Kobato being admired and respected by her classmates, it’s something that Kobato herself can’t accept, preferring to drench herself in fantasy and attacks on Maria, who is fast becoming her best friend. Oh yes, and Sena and Kadota are engaged, in a scene in a church so drenched with awkward sexual tension that even Christ himself tells them off. Still a hilarious comedy with dark undertones. – Sean Gaffney
He’s My Only Vampire, Vol. 4 | By Aya Shouoto | Yen Press – I will give the author credit for at last attempting to keep the ‘they still have to go to school everyday’ aspect of this increasingly dark and twisted manga going, and there are some standard ‘manga’ plots such as Kana having to stand in for the drama club when one of their members goes missing. That said, it’s the aforementioned dark, twisted bits that make this volume more interesting to me—said missing girl ends up as part of a surprisingly high body count, the Angels who oppose Aki are, unsurprisingly for Japanese manga, rather unholy, and the stigma of Lust carries a whole barrel of unhealthy implications in its story. Don’t let the fluffy cover fool you—this is pretty dark vampire action stuff. – Sean Gaffney
Kimi Ni Todoke: From Me to You, Vol. 22 | By Karuho Shiina | Viz Media – Shiina’s series began by discussing how difficult it was to make your feelings known to a person that you love—or even a close friend—and even now twenty-two volumes later, with half the cast finally hooking up, communication troubles still drive the majority of the plot. Kento has now been told what Ayano wants to do, and realizes he’s been selfish, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a full reversal. Likewise, Chizu and Kazehaya are facing a separation from the person they love that is devastating each of them in its own way. Add to this some wonderful scenes with Sawako and Kurumi inspiring each other, and a Big Damn Kiss, and this ends up being another fantastic volume. – Sean Gaffney
My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 4 | By Takuma Morishige | Vertical Comics – As this series goes on, it is starting to slowly expand its universe, although the majority of the volume is still ‘what is Seki doing in class and what is Yokoi’s reaction.’ Yokoi’s impulsive actions end up inadvertently causing her to end up in Seki’s bedroom, and we get to see more of his sister. We also once again see that to the rest of the class, it’s Yokoi who’s the weird one—a reputation not exactly helped by Goto’s somewhat obsessive artwork depicting the many faces of Yokoi. As for Seki himself, what amuses me most is just how often his flights of fancy end up coming back to bite him in the end—it’s not just Yokoi, though she helps. Sometimes it’s his own karma. – Sean Gaffney
Sword Art Online: Progressive (manga), Vol. 3 | By Reki Kawahara and Kiseki Himura | Yen Press – The pointless fanservice that is a mild part of the novels is given a tremendous amount of focus in the manga, leading to Kirito being out of character (the underwear gag) or just pure otaku pandering (the cream-bun bukkake scene). This is irritating, because when the manga decides to use the novel as a stepping stone to tell its own story, it does a very good job. Argo continues to be a major part of this story, which is good as I love her character, and I also like how it fits in the side story ‘The Reason for the Whiskers’ in its own continuity. Still, overall the fanservice left such a bad taste in my mouth that I’d recommend the novel unless you enjoy service for service’s sake. – Sean Gaffney