Anna, Sean, and Michelle review a smattering of new releases.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Vol. 3 | By Kore Yamazaki | Seven Seas – I love it when I find a Seven Seas title I can wholeheartedly support, and this is one of the best. We continue to develop the questionable relationship between Elias and Chise, and the supporting characters notice how codependent it’s starting to be. Chise, of course, is not in a headspace where she can accept this now, but she is growing by leaps and bounds, to the point where I worry she will seriously overextend herself in a volume or two. The rest of the book allows us to wander around British fantasy settings, complete with the Wandering Jew as one of the more terrifying pretty-boy villains I’ve seen in some time. Anyone who enjoys fantasy with a strong plot and characterization should be following this series. – Sean Gaffney
Assassination Classroom, Vol. 7 | By Yusei Matsui | Viz Media – Koro-sensei may be a barrel of laughs (and I am very fond of the fact that even in the most serious situations the author still finds time for a panel or two of hilarity), but as a teacher, he’s first rate, be it assassinations or civics. Class 3-E may still be in the doghouse, but their performance in the exams this semester makes you want to punch your fist in the air. Even the headmaster’s “just as planned” seems rather hollow. The class is also getting more skilled at planning assassinations, and their attempt towards the end of the volume was the closest they’ve been yet. Of course, now we get a new crisis and cliffhanger. Sounds like it’s Nagisa and Kayano to the rescue. Always grateful to Viz for licensing this. – Sean Gaffney
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Vol. 9 | By Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki | VIZ Media – The Fall Classic has reached the quarter-final stage! After Soma pulls off a bento victory against amazingly talented Alicie Nakiri, it’s Megumi’s turn to shine in a ramen battle. It’s great to see her holding her own, exhibiting confidence, determination, and talent, and I appreciate that female chefs are treated as worthy adversaries in this series. There’s not too much fanservice in this volume, either, as it’s mostly the (older, male) judges reacting in silly ways to the foods they are tasting. Actually, the only icky moment comes in the form of live-turtle butchery, but even that is somewhat redeemed when it leads to an Ultraman versus Gamera sort of homage. Food Wars! is great fun and always leaves me wishing I had more volumes to devour. – Michelle Smith
Inu x Boku SS, Vol. 9 | By Cocoa Fujiwara | Yen Press – A timeskip, even one involving reincarnation, has been seen in manga before, but I don’t recall too many that have then returned again, as we start the climax of Inu x Boku SS by returning to the characters as we knew them at the start of the series. This allows for a few attempts at humor, (mostly in the first half, as there are three side-stories before the continuation proper), but for the most part it’s down to business as our heroes read the letters from their future selves and decide what to do. We also get some insight into Zange’s past, and he seems a lot less goofy and annoying than he was before. Now, however, everyone’s about to be split up. How are things going to go from here? Still a good supernatural thriller. – Sean Gaffney
Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 11 | By Fumi Yoshinaga | VIZ Media – We’ve seen quite a few power-hungry schemers throughout this series, but none has been as odious as Tokugawa Harusada, who holds the reins of government while her son, good-hearted but timid Ienari, serves as an ornamental shogun whose only responsibility is to beget heirs. In comparison to someone like Hisamichi, who did bad things out of love of Yoshimune, Harusada comes off as just plain evil. It’s a bit hard to take, honestly, but balancing out her reign of terror is a hopeful storyline in which Aonuma’s former disciples not only find happiness outside the palace, but work towards fulfilling the dream of creating a vaccine to stop the redface pox once and for all. I absolutely love that Yoshinaga shows how strongly Aonuma and Gennai live on in the memories of those who worked alongside them; it gets me right in the feels. – Michelle Smith
So Cute it Hurts!!, Vol. 4 | By Go Ikeyamada | Viz Media – This series continues to be relentlessly adorable, as twins Megumu and Mitsuru go on some unconventional datas. Megumu and Aoi go out, even though he can’t be any closer to her than two feet. This complication doesn’t hinder the blushing couple. Mitsuru gets into his kendo gear to answer a challenge from Azusa. He assumes that they are going to fight, but they take their combat to the closest video arcade. This volume was extremely light and fluffy, but there are hints of complications ahead. This is fun to read, even though it is a bit superficial. – Anna N