Sean and Michelle are at it again.
Bloody Mary, Vol. 1 | By Akaza Samamiya | Viz Media – Given the glut of vampire titles on the market these days, I usually try to find something different about a debut that helps it to stand out from the pack. Sadly, I’m not sure I got anything from Bloody Mary, which has just gotten started but didn’t really leave me with a desire to continue. While not a BL title, the author has done a lot of BL, and the subtext is certainly there—the two leads are a somewhat puppyish uke and a somewhat sadistic seme. And there’s lots of secrets, and traditions, and amnesia, and a somewhat smug female vampire who I suspect will be dead in 2-3 more volumes. Honestly, while not a BL title, that may be its best audience—there’s something for them here. Vampire fans might want to look elsewhere. – Sean Gaffney
Chocolate Cosmos, Vol. 3 | By Nana Haruta | VIZ Media (digital only) – There’s no escaping the fact that Chocolate Cosmos is a stereotypical shoujo manga. In this volume, for example, Valentine’s Day has arrived and Sayuki Sakurai is determined to confess her love to baby-faced teacher Katsuya Hagiwara, oblivious to the fact that her childhood friend has feelings for her. That said, I applaud Hagiwara for shutting down her fantasies, and must say that I really do have no idea who Sayuki is going to end up with (though this is partly due to having zero insight into Hagiwara’s thoughts and feelings). Probably if this series were any longer, I would not feel so charitably towards it, but it’s short (concluding in the next volume) and pleasant, and sometimes those attributes are enough to induce me to see a series through to the end. – Michelle Smith
Crown of Thorns, Vol. 1 | By Yoko Kamio | VIZ Media (digital only) – Prickly loner Nobara Fukami has no patience for her fake and manipulative classmates. She’s also been hearing an eerie voice in her head since the age of five, and when she turns sixteen, the demon finally manifests corporeally and tasks her with creating orbs of human negativity that he’ll consume to gain rank in the demon hierarchy. There are reasons why Nobara is obliged to comply, but she’s a strong heroine and resists being cast in the servant role. After demanding to be treated as an equal partner, she ultimately finds that the demon (whom she dubs Lucio) understands her better than anyone else ever has. I really enjoyed this debut volume and am kind of bummed that the series is complete in two volumes. I hope we get Cat Street next! – Michelle Smith
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Vol. 9 | By Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki | Viz Media – Soma may be the star of the show, but as a Jump manga we also get to see the supporting cast develop and grow. Megumi’s arc was my favorite in this particular volume—she lost, yes, that was expected given the genre and the fact that it’s a tournament arc. But her excitement and drive to test herself further is what’s really important here. Likewise, Alice’s defeat is a humbling lesson on needing to see the entire picture when making a meal. I’m not sure if Soma’s going to win this thing—given the clichés of the genre, he should be defeated before the finals—but whatever happens, he’ll get something important out of it as well. Also, as always, completely hungry after reading this, this time for hamburgers. – Sean Gaffney
Komomo Confiserie, Vol. 2 | By Maki Minami | Viz Media – Komomo was a bit of a spoiled brat in the first volume, but having been appropriately humbled, she may be shifting a bit too much to the other direction, as she’s almost a saint in this book. Admittedly this is something that Maki Minami does in all her titles, as the men in them stand agog at the perfection of their respective love interests. This one’s not as long as Special A or Voice Over!, so we’ll see if it wears out its welcome before the end. ‘Til then, this isn’t deep, but is fun and light. Also, if you believe that “arranged marriage is likely void” line, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Don’t be surprised if this is a future plot twist—indeed, we may have met the other party already. – Sean Gaffney
Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi, Vol. 1 | Story by HaccaWorks*, Art by nanao | Yen Press – I didn’t know anything about this series before I started reading it. Literally, I judged it by its cover (“Ooh, pretty!”) and was intrigued enough to flip through it. The charmingly wispy-looking artwork convinced me that it was indeed my sort of manga, and now that I’ve read it I’m happy I took the chance. In look and feel, Of the Red… reminds me of Natsume’s Book of Friends, one of my favorite series, but it’s more plot-driven (thanks to its visual novel origins, I presume), as it takes place in a town whose station passing trains never seem to notice and whose inhabitants have a way of disappearing. Yue and his two new friends resolve to find out who’s responsible, but he hasn’t told them that he’s supposed to choose one of them for his next meal. I’m really looking forward to volume two! – Michelle Smith
A Silent Voice, Vol. 4 | By Yoshitoki Oima | Kodansha Comics – As predicted, things continue to get complex for our lead couple… well, not really a couple. Shoko may have realized she loves Shoya, but she can’t communicate this to him. And given Shoya is having trouble understanding the concept of basic friendship, I’m fairly certain he’s not remotely ready for love. Meanwhile, Naoka proves to be even more appalling than I was anticipating, trying to get us to understand that her victim blaming is just as valid. And worst of all, a tragedy leaves Shoko and her sister without one of the few good things in their life. A Silent Voice may not be a romance, but it’s certainly a dramatic potboiler, and I worry things will get even worse before they get better, but I’m there reading it anyway. – Sean Gaffney