Sean and Michelle give the gift of briefs!
Bloody Mary, Vol. 1 | By Akaza Samamiya | VIZ Media – I’m not really sure how I feel about this one. The basic premise is that “Bloody” Mary is a vampire who can’t be killed by normal means, so he seeks out Maria (also male) who supposedly possesses a power that could kill him. Only Maria doesn’t—we later find out some other family is devoted to making sure he doesn’t learn about it—and, tired of fending off ravenous vampires out for his delicious blood, Maria conscripts Mary as a bodyguard until he can learn how to kill him. This might sound kind of interesting, and it kind of is, but it’s also repetitive as heck! About 90% of Bloody’s dialogue consists of entreaties to Maria to kill him, and the other 10% is him resisting consuming Maria’s blood. Both characters have missing memories, too, which are hinted at a few times. I’ll keep reading for now, but I’m underwhelmed so far. – Michelle Smith
Kiss Him, Not Me!, Vol. 2 | By Junko | Kodansha Comics – This is a bit less over-the-top and silly than the first volume, and therefore it makes me slightly more uncomfortable. The four leads (well, more accurately the 3 leads and Mutsumi, who seems to be the only person concerned with Kae’s boundaries) are all still very much trying to show to Kae that they really like and want to date her, and she’s not only still having none of it, but is freaking out a bit at all the attention, to the point of having a nervous breakdown. It’s framed as her disliking reality over fantasy, but more accurately it could simply be sheer overload of new feelings. The best chapter was likely the last, where the gang goes to Comiket and we see Kae rescued by a new character. Problematic fun, let’s keep it silly. – Sean Gaffney
Komomo Confiserie, Vol. 2 | By Maki Minami | VIZ Media – I enjoyed the second volume of Komomo Confiserie more than the first, largely because Komomo herself has become a better person. She’s made a friend in classmate Rise, and proves to be very reliable when it comes to helping Rise confess her feelings to a guy who, unfortunately, turns out to be a creep. Somehow, this experience convinces Komomo that she wants to be in love, and though a pretend romance with Natsu quickly fizzles, it seems she might have met a contender by the end of the volume. I appreciate how Komomo’s commanding presence helps her friends in times of need, and how she’s still content with the life that she’s living even if she’s now poor, but must confess that, overall, this series has so far failed to live up to Voice Over! in my esteem. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all. – Michelle Smith
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 15 | By Shinobu Ohtaka | Viz Media – After getting a lot to do last time, Aladdin is confined to the final pages in the new volume. And Morgiana gets to show off her awesomeness, but it’s all too brief. So it’s up to Alibaba to provide the bulk of the shonen awesome here, as he enters gladiator school and immediately has to deal with a hideous monster, who in true shonen tradition he not only beats but befriends. I love that Cassim and his influence have not faded into backstory. That said, what everyone will be talking about here is the political turmoil and civil war in the Kou Empire, and Kogyoku may prove to be the one sympathetic character in the entire family, as we meet the Empress Consort, and she’s pretty evil. Magi is addictive. – Sean Gaffney
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 15 | By Shinobu Ohtaka | VIZ Media – There is quite a lot to like in this volume. We begin with Alibaba seeking to join gladiator training school and, in the process, achieving clarity of purpose by incorporating Cassim’s strength into his own and realizing what he must do for his country. Meanwhile, Hakuryu shows a similar determination regarding the Kou Empire’s destiny, ruled now by his messed-up yet extremely powerful mother, while Aladdin becomes top student at the magic school and Morgiana takes a literal leap of faith on her own journey. On top of the satisfying shounen rite of our heroes becoming stronger, we also get a healthy dose of the expanding world and introductions to several women in positions of leadership. Magi is a skillfully crafted series and I recommend it most highly. – Michelle Smith
Toriko, Vol. 31 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – As with most books starting a new arc, much of this volume is dedicated to worldbuilding, which in Toriko means new monsters and new foods. This can be terrifying (the leech heel), hilarious (the travel frogs), or both (the Soylent Mean, which I suspect was a different but equally horrible pun in Japanese). Toriko and company show off their new awesome skills, and Komatsu shows he’s not just being dragged around and can literally cook anything at all as well as having amazing ‘food luck.’ We also get the return of Brunch the Tengu, which leads to more goofiness just by his very presence. Nothing earthshaking happens here, but if you follow Toriko, this volume is not going to change your mind—it’s solid. – Sean Gaffney