It’s a seasonally appropriate bouquet of briefs!
Akuma no Riddle: Riddle Story of Devil, Vol. 2 | By Yun Kouga and Sunao Minakata | Seven Seas – Twelve female high-school assassins have gathered in a special class with the aim of killing their classmate and target, Ichinose Haru. In this volume, Azuma Tokaku decides to go against her assignment and publicly declares herself Haru’s guardian. Two classmates make their attempt on Haru’s life, and in the process we learn more about their backstories and the rules of the game itself. While volume two isn’t as tensely suspenseful as the first, it’s got enough mystery and yuri flair to appeal to me. What it reminds me of most is Bokurano, with the rotating spotlight between players in a game who might not know all the rules. The fact that Azuma’s change of allegiance was anticipated, for example, and lingering secrets about Haru’s true nature guarantee that I’ll be coming back for more. – Michelle Smith
Crown of Thorns, Vol. 2 | By Yoko Kamio | VIZ Media (digital only) – Alas, I didn’t enjoy the second (and final) volume of Crown of Thorns as much as the first. It wasn’t bad—indeed, it’s a thoroughly pleasant read—but a few pages into the volume, I could see the path the plot would take to the finale and it played out almost exactly as expected, the only real deviation being some unexplained out-of-character behavior from the big bad. I figure all of this is due to the series’ brevity. I wanted more of prickly Nobara and Lucio, her “slightly virtuous demon,” before anyone developed romantic feelings or vowed to become a more caring person. I just can’t care as much if it happens suddenly. Still, I’m glad to have had the chance to read something else by Kamio. More would certainly be welcome. – Michelle Smith
Horimiya, Vol. 2 | By Hero and Daisuke Hagiwara | Yen Press – While Horimiya may not have the most original storyline ever, it’s still proof that manga about nice people being nice doesn’t have to be boring! The plot isn’t fueled by misunderstandings—Hori could’ve frustratingly allowed the pretty student council member to make a move on Miyamura, but she clearly voiced her opposition—or love triangles. Instead, there are two kids with a strong bond of friendship inching slowly towards being something more, and it is honestly quite wonderful. We get to know Miyamura a bit better in this volume, too, including a glimpse at his lonely past that makes it difficult for him to accept the idea that Hori might have feelings for him. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next and relieved that there are at least half a dozen volumes still to come. I am far from ready for this series to be anywhere near over. – Michelle Smith
Maid-sama!, Vols. 5-6 | By Hiro Fujiwara | Viz Media – It really is astounding how much difference 5-6 years makes in your opinion of a manga. I reviewed Maid-sama! 6 back in the Tokyopop days for my blog, and mostly discussed Misaki and Usui, as well as the intro of the past childhood friend. “Boys spend a chapter trying to rape the girls” never really crossed my radar, but now it’s a blinding light. I continue to find Maid-sama! emotionally satisfying but intellectually jarring—Misaki’s admission of feeling useless, and Usui’s comforting of her, is sweet but my brain keeps saying “but.” And let’s not even get into the series’ undecided feelings about effeminate males. Maid-sama! demonstrates how fast something can become inappropriate in this modern world. – Sean Gaffney
QQ Sweeper, Vol. 2 | By Kyousuke Motomi | Viz Media – Dengeki Daisy always had a good balance between its comedy and drama, but in Motomi’s new series, the drama clearly takes precedence. I’d said before how I was fairly certain that Fumi would turn out to be the Fuyu that Kyutaro keeps remembering, and sure enough, he’s now certain of it as well. What’s more surprising is how connected she seems to be to the background of all this mental bug cleaning—it’s suggested that her presence is what attracts the bugs to others. Our heroes are quick to assure her this isn’t her fault, but I suspect the lessons will take a bit longer to stick. In the meantime, as with Dengeki Daisy, I desperately want to read more to see what happens next. One of the most addictive new series. – Sean Gaffney
School Judgment, Vol. 1 | By Nobuaki Enoki and Takeshi Obata | VIZ Media – Like Library Wars, School Judgment asks its readers to believe that the Japanese government has passed some unlikely legislation. In this case, establishing a judicial system run by children. However, here it’s so over-the-top—especially the four-year-old judges who are so burdened by their task that they look middle-aged—that it’s easier to just go with it. The mystery cases themselves are not especially great, but I like the glimpses at defense genius Abaku Inugami’s past as well as the suggestion of a secret organization at large. And while some of the humor is not for me—I sigh heavily every time a shounen manga features a dog peeing on someone—there is a line at the end that made me laugh out loud, which was completely unexpected. At only three volumes, it won’t be too much of a time investment to see this one through to the end. – Michelle Smith
So Cute It Hurts!!, Vol. 5 | By Go Ikeyamada | Viz Media – This manga continues to be the lightest and fluffiest of shoujo stories as the twins temporarily shift places yet again and Mitsuru decides to be unselfish in love, only to ensure that his own heart gets broken. These little plot twists that include some soulfulness ensure that the series isn’t totally insubstantial. There’s a time shift in the middle of the volume, as everyone starts a new year of school. Megumu is steadfast in her devotion to Aoi, and he’s determined to work on his female phobia so he can date his girlfriend without having to maintain 12 inches of distance between them at all times. This manga is still cute and funny five volumes in. – Anna N