New releases from Kodansha, VIZ, and Vertical are on the menu for this week’s Bookshelf Briefs.
Black Rose Alice, Vol. 6 | By Setona Mizushiro | VIZ Media – From the moment it was licensed, I was aware that Black Rose Alice is on hiatus in Japan—this volume was published there in 2011—and that the story would go into indefinite limbo after volume six. What I did not expect is that it would not be painful! Instead of abruptly cutting off without any hint of resolution, this is the end of “part one,” and while there is certainly plenty more story that could be told, some very important things wrap up, too. We get the full backstory for Kai and Reiji, there’s seeming closure where Koya is concerned, and, most significantly, Alice makes her choice. I eagerly await part two, but at least I don’t feel annoyed in the meantime. – Michelle Smith
Cage of Eden, Vol. 19 | By Yoshinobu Yamada | Kodansha Comics – I long for the good old days of Cage of Eden when our heroes merely had to battle prehistoric 50-foot reptiles. Sadly, they’re now facing a sociopathic human, who’s decided that the best way to get the masses on his side is to allow them to rape the girls in Akira’s group. That doesn’t happen, but it reminds readers that Cage of Eden is, shonen togetherness and action scenes aside, mainly designed for the 13-year-old boy who likes big tits and girls being threatened. In the end, the entire escapade proves fruitless in any case as the villain isn’t even a real doctor! Luckily, things are resolved here, and the next arc is the final one. I’ll keep reading, but this series has outstayed its welcome. – Sean Gaffney
Chi’s Sweet Home, Vol. 12 | By Konami Kanata | Vertical, Inc. – It’s bittersweet to say farewell to a series as great as Chi’s Sweet Home, but man, this final volume packs a powerful emotional punch! The Yamada family is torn—should they take Chi with them to France or call the number on the ‘lost cat’ poster with her picture on it? The decision is ultimately made for them when Chi’s mom gets injured while protecting her daughter from an oncoming car. Many sniffles ensue. I knew I was in trouble when Yohei made me get all verklempt on page five but the moment he realizes how important Chi’s feline family is to her and his resigned acceptance of returning her is especially heartbreaking. In fact, the excellent non-verbal storytelling showing how deep the bond between Chi and Yohei is, even if they are from different species, left me literally in tears. And if crying over fictional cartoon cats is wrong, I don’t want to be right! – Michelle Smith
Love Stage!!, Vol. 4 | By Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou | SuBLime – After an opening chapter that is literally about Izumi avoiding Ryoma because his butt hurts, Love Stage!! finally does what I’ve been wanting it to do and focuses on the boys’ careers. Izumi has made his debut and, after making an impact with several high-profile commercials, gets offered a part in a TV drama from his favorite director. Unfortunately, this guy is a rampant sexual harrasser, so Ryoma accepts a role, too, squeezing this commitment into his already packed schedule so he can protect Izumi. I appreciate that we finally see Izumi exhibit enthusiasm for the craft of acting and also that he impresses his co-stars with his raw talent. I hope the series maintains this balance of love and stage going forward. – Michelle Smith
My Hero Academia, Vol. 2 | By Kohei Horikoshi | Viz Media – Our premise having been given in the first volume, this second one is devoted to fleshing it out, with the arcs being carefully structured just in case the series did not take off. (Unsuccessful Jump series tend to run two volumes). So we see a confrontation between our hero and his rival, showing why their childhood friendship turned sour, and showing off their faults and strengths admirably. We also expand the cast, meeting a few new hero students, of whom the frog girl made the strongest impression. And we also get introduced to a new set of villains, which shows off the author’s strong sense of design, and also allows us a nice little cliffhanger. Exciting fun. – Sean Gaffney
My Little Monster, Vol. 11 | By Robico | Kodansha Comics – This series is wrapping up soon, and thus is trying to show off how much its characters have developed and resolving their relationships. And they have developed—Natsume still tends to show a stubborn immature side left over from the bullying she received, but she also shows how she does see Sasayan’s moods and can try to help when he’s depressed—without the artificial cheer that comes with it. As for Haru and Shizuku, they start off apart but that doesn’t last, partly as they’re meant for each other and partly as Yamaken forces the issue by confessing—again—and getting shut down—again. After sagging a bit in the middle volumes, this series has found its feet again, and this volume is particularly strong. – Sean Gaffney
RIN-NE, Vol. 19 | By Rumiko Takahashi | Viz Media – I think I may finally have reached the end of my rope with RIN-NE, which continues to showcase one-shot supernatural wackiness with the occasional ghost with a grudge. My many assumptions about the series—including the one that Sakura’s strong emotions were left behind when she almost died—seem to now be replaced with ‘maybe she’s simply dull.’ I have called this Takahashi’s retirement series before, and the lack of effort involved in each successive week depresses me. And unlike Ranma 1/2 or Urusei Yatsura, I don’t have beloved nostalgia to sustain me. We do get a new character here, but the chief gag seems to be that he may be gay (but of course is not). Yeah, I’m done. -Sean Gaffney